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Loyalty Newswire – January 21, 2019

Photo by William Wachter

Big naming news, big data news, big merger news, some tip-jar news, and some cannabis news we didn’t see coming. Here’s what we’re following in January loyalty news:

DATA

Facebook backs Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence with $7.5 million

Let’s start by deciding to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is more than just a PR move by a company that has consistently been one of the most egregious violators of data ethics in modern history.  If we start from that admittedly generous position, then this could portend something genuinely positive.

HOSPITALITY

Marriott Bonvoy Reflects Hospitality Loyalty Evolution

News of Marriott’s re-branded loyalty program began “leaking” to certain media outlets about a month ago but with scant detail as to what the program might look like.  Now that the news is official, we’re free to chime in, evaluate and opine on the changes.  For one, there is something of a debate among loyalty practitioners about the merits of a separately-branded loyalty program.  But regardless of where you fall on that particular argument, you have to credit Marriott for coming up with a name that’s very clever and memorable.

AIRLINES

Airline passengers are being asked to tip hosties for good service in new aviation trend – so will it fly in Australia?

Several thoughts occur to us here, starting with this one. If I ever referred to a flight attendant here in the U.S. as a “hostie”, I’m quite sure I would get escorted off the plane.  Secondly, while this appears to be another creative way to recapture thinning passenger revenue, it creates a new and complicated dynamic between passenger and attendant. What constitutes good and tip-able service? How is that relationship affected when service is less than stellar?  Does that tip even end up in the Flight Attendant’s hands?

RETAIL

A New Era Of Click-And-Collect Technology Might Bring Amazon And Retailers Closer Together

Walking the floor at last week’s NRF Big Show, a few major themes became apparent.  I was struck by the number of vendors with AI-enabled solutions.  And speaking with some of those same vendors, it’s clear that they understand that, though AI may be the buzzword of the moment, as a technology, there are a lot of big retailers who are focused on its implementation and utility.  The other theme that seemed to be on everyone’s lips, if not their booth signage, is the emergence of click-and-collect as a retail necessity.

Will Cannabis Products Drive Shoppers to DSW’s Stores?

On the other hand, we definitely did not see this coming.  Yes, cannabis marketing and CBD-infused products are becoming more present on store shelves, but shoes???

M&A

Fiserv is buying First Data in a $22B fintech megadeal

Fintech has become one of the most active areas of mergers and acquisitions recently but mostly with smaller to mid-size deals.  Now comes news of two of the largest entities in that world joining forces in a deal worth $22 Billion.  While technically a merger, Fiserv is taking the upper hand in the all-stock transaction.

Ascenda acquires global loyalty consulting firm Loyalty Advantage

Ascenda, the global loyalty management company, today announced the acquisition of loyalty consulting firm Loyalty Advantage. Mark Mullinix — previously Managing Director at Loyalty Advantage — has joined Ascenda as Head of Loyalty Strategy. Our congratulations to Mullinix on the move.

TRENDS

Will dine for travel: OpenTable lets loyalty members redeem points at Kayak

Opening up your points economy to enable redemption outside of the host program offerings seems to be catching on.  In the latest example, OpenTable is allowing members with a high point balance to redeem at travel consolidator, Kayak.  Further evidence that the traditional definitions of loyalty program categories are shifting and morphing into new forms.

AMAZON

Amazon Prime membership exceeds 100 million

According to estimates by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners Inc., as of Dec. 31, 2018, Amazon Prime has 101 million members in the U.S.  That accounts for 62% of its U.S. shoppers.  Interestingly, according to Josh Lowitz, co-founder of CIRP, while membership is still growing, the growth rate has slowed somewhat.

LAUNCHES

MagicStay Launches a New Loyalty Program

MagicStay, which bills itself as the first apartment booking site dedicated to business travel and mobility, is launching its new Magic Loyalty Card program to reward traveler loyalty. The platform provides over 200,000 studios, apartments and houses in more than 90 countries and is available for those who “wish to travel peacefully.”

Loyal Guest grows independent hotels in Asia

A new platform that gives independent hotels access to enterprise-level loyalty programming is growing membership throughout Asia.  The platform enables independent hoteliers to issue and redeem on a level that had been previously accessible only to large chains.

The Loyalty Newswire is compiled and edited by the staff at The Wise Marketer.

Loyalty Newswire – January 21, 2019
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